on Safe Haven: movie review & meeting the stars!!

Safe Haven. The words bring up images of protection, peace, and maybe a beach =) Last month, I was invited to a pre-screening of the latest Nicholas Sparks movie, based on his novel, Safe Haven.

Y’all, it delivered all of those things.

Husby came with me (we made it a little date night), and although other Nicholas Sparks movies are proclaimed ‘chick flicks’, Safe Haven is different. Enough so that when, on the way home, Husby got a text from my brother that said he was revoking Husby’s man card because he had gone to such a movie, Husby wrote back, ‘Dude. There’s fishing, things on fire, and someone gets shot in the head. Grunt.’

Ladies, your husbands may not hate this movie.

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A synopsis of the movie from the production notes:

A mysterious young woman arrives in a small North Carolina town and reluctantly finds new love with a lonely widower in Safe Haven, a deeply moving romantic thriller from Nicholas Sparks.


Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) arrives in the tiny coastal town of Southport, North Carolina, looking to make a new, quiet life for herself. She rents a rundown cabin and takes a job waiting on tables in the local café, hoping to keep a low profile. But despite the almost impenetrable emotional walls she has built to protect herself, she is drawn in by the genuine warmth and caring of the
tight-knit community, especially the town’s grocery-store owner, Alex (Josh Duhamel), and his two young children.
As Katie gradually learns to trust again, Alex and his little brood teach her to experience the joys of love once more. But nothing is as simple as it seems and her newfound happiness is threatened by the terrifying secrets that still haunt her. When a mysterious stranger arrives in town asking questions about Katie, her past threatens to reclaim her. Although every instinct tells her to run, Katie decides to do whatever she must to protect her new life, as she rediscovers the meaning of sacrifice and commitment in a gripping and suspenseful story of hope, survival, and the power of true love.

The love story was believeable, the setting breathtaking, and there were enough twists & turns to keep the audience totally hooked. And in the bathroom afterwards, I overheard someone saying “‘I kept thinking, ‘I’ve read the book, why am I worried about what’s going to happen?!’ ”

That’s how you know it’s good. Oh, and Josh Duhamel & Julianne Hough showed up to the premiere. Wowza.

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If you’re looking for a good date night flick, this is worth the price of admission. After the movie, we stopped at Target and I bought the novel, and the very day the soundtrack was released we purchased that as well. It’s been playing pretty much non-stop since then.

I may have tweeted and Facebooked a wee bit excessively few times about actually meeting Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough and Nicholas Sparks – the stars and author of Safe Haven. Four other Twin Cities bloggers also attended the meet & greet. We were all pretty starstruck, but the three celebrities were gorgeous poised gracious friendly and pretty normal.

I was late and almost missed the whole thing – I got entirely lost in my own city. Oy. BUT they were very kind & welcoming – Nicholas Sparks even asked one of the media people to please get me a chair after realizing there wasn’t one for me. Oh, I was a late, bumbling, sweaty mess, but I did have a cute outfit on, and when I apologized for being late, Josh said ‘No worries at all – Julianne’s late all the time!’ I had cried in the car, and Husby had to hop on Google Maps and talk me to the interview location. You’d think after 30 years in the same city I would know it… I was texting one of the other bloggers, who was also late (thank goodness!) Anyway, I flew up the elevator and into the room RIGHT after they’d closed the doors. I’m so grateful they let me in!!
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Excerpts from our interview:

How did you prepare for your roles?
JH: I visited shelters and spoke with my therapist to learn more about the psyche of a battered woman. JD: I spoke with a friend whose wife just passed away and is actually raising twin boys on his own. The relationship w/the kids was so important to me. I wanted to have a ‘real, specific relationship with both of them. That relationship was as important as the one I had with her [Julianne]‘. Also, I spent two weeks on the beach of North Carolina – writing, reading, boogieboarding, and just absorbing the little town we were in.

Nicholas, Safe Haven is your first romantic novel also billed as a thriller. Do you think your future works may contain a thriller element as well?
Sure! Absolutely! How that will unfold will, of course, depend on the story I choose to write. But basically you have three types of danger that cause thrillers: you have a dangerous person, a dangerous place, or a dangerous thing. And so in time, you might! You want to keep things fresh… offer threads of familarity – North Carolina, two nice-looking people who are flawed, they struggle but come together – the small town threads. But you want to make it different. You don’t want people to walk out of the theater saying, “Gosh, I could’ve just rented The Notebook.” You want them to say Safe Haven was great in its own right.

Julianne, towards the end, those scenes were really scary. How did you prep for that? (this was the question I asked!)
I mean, I don’t want to say they weren’t hard to play, but they were actually really fun. I’m a very active, athletic person, so those scenes were very fun for me. It’s like choreography, like dancing, you know – you have your routine, your fight routine.

Nicholas, are you as romantic in real life as you are on paper?
Yeah, yes!! My wife likes romantic things, and a happy wife is a happy life, right? =)

How has the ‘business’ changed from what you thought it would be?
JD: It’s not nearly as glamorous. It’s a lot harder work than I think people realize. I always wanted a creative outlet – anything art related – but I never knew what this would bring, and I think that you have expectations, you dream about what it would be. But you know, nobody leaves this business without being humbled, and I’ve had a lot of humbling experiences. But at the end of the day you go home, find somebody you love, and do what anyone else does. JH: I’ve always wanted to entertain in general, and you think it’s glamorous, and I remember somebody telling me ‘you will get to that point where it now becomes work.’ And it’s true! I love the actual creative process, but the life that comes with it does become work, and you want to go home and just lay with your dogs and cook.

It was a very cool to talk to these three! Overall – Safe Haven gets 5/5 stars from this girl. Hope you had a Happy Valentine’s weekend, friends!

{girl with blog}

*I was invited to attend a complimentary screening of Safe Haven, and was not compensated for or asked to write this post. All opinions are my own.

so glad you came to the fence.
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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17303683333028066002 alyssa zech

    Super awesome that you had this opportunity! I actually love that you were late, because I know I would have been as well! Or I just would have been a flustered mess in general about meeting Nicholas Sparks and Julianne!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13647587383680159584 susanlulu

    I’m from NC, and agree, the movie was awesome. Sounds like you had a GREAT time meeting these 3. Thanks for sharing your experiences.